“You’ll have to spend the night somewhere else tonight Tony” was how she greeted me. It had already been a very long day, filled with extremely hard work. I was part of a team that was replanting a clearcut. The bags of seedlings must have weighed at least a hundred pounds and it was July and too hot. And we had been so close lately, so, when she told me that I was floored.
We had been reworking our relationship for the past couple of weeks. It is strange how different things can be from the way they are explained. I mean, we had heard that open-marriage was a very cool thing. Being just 17 and she 18, and further being coerced into being married in the first place, well, things got out of hand really quick.
In early June when we should have been celebrating four months of bliss, and after having moved across town, she seduced my best friend—in front of me. It was such a strange thing to watch the dance; the interest in his face, the intensity in hers, the questioning glance and my acquiescing nod of approval and their departure. So, bored and feeling really strange, I went down stairs and found that we had a neighbor.
A was striking, blonde, thin, and in her mid-thirties. She had two little kids; I think they were three and five. She also had an estranged husband that lived around the corner and up two blocks. Ralph was a Nazi. But A was easy to talk to, and before I knew it, we were lovers. And she couldn’t get enough.
But it all seemed so very wrong. And after a few weeks, I talked with K and we actually both seemed to be feeling the same way. So, I broke it off with A and K said she would do the same. A was heartbroken, but she was still cordial.
So, when K told me to find somewhere else to sleep I was really confused. I was hurt too, and let her know that. But K was adamant; Mike was already on his way over, so I had to be gone. She screamed that she no longer loved me, that she wished she’d never met me… It went on for quite a while. And so back down-stairs I went.
It was a deepening dusk, still quite warm from a cloudless and windless day. A was on her porch. She had heard K’s tirade and asked if I needed a hug. “Oh yes!!” I most certainly did. And I needed a place to stay the night. And like a well choreographed play, we were inside her house and getting ready for sleep.
It was only to be sleep that night, which was fine with me because I really wanted to patch things up with K. But I had grown so accustomed to sleeping next to a sweet warm person. It didn’t seem wrong, just strange – and that it was so easy seemed a little odd.
Sleep found us very quickly and mine was dreamless and light. So it seemed strange all of a sudden to hear the front door knob rattle. Now, A’s bed was a fold out in the living room. She had just rearranged the furniture, so the sofa, when made into a bed, was only a yard or so from the door. The sound was muted but unmistakable. And fleeting. I raised up a little, and looked around half expecting to see one of her kids, but there was nothing.
As I drifted back to sleep another sound, this time MUCH more forceful than before crashed into my awareness. Startled, I quickly sat up and watched the shards of glass and snapped bits of sash from A’s French-door arcing through the air, and the silhouette of Ralph framed in the now empty doorway. His growl turned into a howl, and the guttural, slurred way he formed “I’m gonna cut offff your nutz BOY!” told me he was already drunk. Already? Nah, probably still drunk. And by the glint of the bayonet in his right hand, he had been sharpening it all night.
A screamed! Ralph threw his three year old daughter off to his left and as he twisted, I yelled “feets don’t fail me now!” and bolted for the door—naked as a Jay bird.
Well, I didn’t really care that I was naked, I was getting away, and the Nazi wasn’t coming after me. So when I was running up the stairs (like a little dog on a linoleum floor, yeah, I still have scars on my shins…) and felt the wetness on my back, it was surprising. I knew it wasn’t raining, no, it was a beautiful bright July morning so it seemed strange. It never occurred to me that he had stabbed me, I didn’t feel anything. But sure enough, as I reached my hands around behind me and swiped above my hips there was a twinge, and as I pulled my hands back, they were dripping with blood.
I reached my apartment and being naked I had no key, so I began to pound on the door. Eventually, Mike came to the door and I pushed my way in. I went to the bedroom and turned so that K could see and said “He stabbed me!” To which she replied “Get out of here Tony! You’re getting blood on my afghan!”
Needless to say, that was the death knell for the marriage. I spattered blood in every room in the apartment. Walls, ceilings, floors, windows—I spared nothing. Then I got into the bathtub and watched my corpuscles trickle down the drain.
Next thing I remember was some really serious pain as the doctor was sticking a ruler into the stab wound in my back. Then he says all serious, “You are one lucky kid! That knife went in six and a half inches. I don’t know how you managed to survive. It could have severed your spinal cord; missed it by less than a centimeter. It could have punctured your lung or pierced your heart but it slipped right between them. I’ve never seen anyone so lucky to be alive…”
I wasn’t feeling very lucky that day, but now, I know for certain that I was Blessed.
K and A had planned it out well. I was in the right place at the right time. A had let the Nazi know she would have overnight company, and gave him a case of Rainier beer as she dropped off her daughter the evening before. It was the perfect plan! K would be rid of me forever and the Nazi would be in jail for a long time.
The county sheriff’s office refused to take Ralph to jail, the district attorney refused to make a case as it was a crime of passion, and the world got way bigger.